Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Dear Mr. Joyce
I'm so dismayed
And so relieved
that you died before
I was born.
I know
you'll understand that
If I had seen your face
but once,
or heard you sing,
I would have sought you out
And charmed you
And made you love me.
Nora who?
You would have said
And off we'd go
On the boat
And the train
To Zurich,
While Nora
Emptied bedpans
Changed sheets
And flirted with-
Slept with
Other men.
You and I,
Would have been
Perfect for each other.
I would have
Calmed your fears,
Assuaged your insecurities,
Fulfilled your desires,
So much so
That all your pain
And doubts and torment
And regrets
Would have faded away.
And you would have felt
No need or desire
To write Ulysses
So you can see,
Why I am relieved
And sad
We never met.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another Bloomsday with no public celebration.

My fifth year in Idaho where people don't
celebrate Bloomsday. I am spending the
summer in Boise but all my books are still in
Moscow, so I went to a bookstore in downtown
Boise to buy a (fourth) copy of Ulysses. I asked
the manager and owner if there were any
Bloomsday events being held next week and
he said:

What's Bloomsday?
Happy Birthday Willie! You can find some of his poems here.

And a very happy birthday to Tyler.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


A new Zealand Professor has come up with an interesting

“A close analysis of Einstein's Special Theory of
Relativity published in 1905 and Joyce's novel Ulysses,
which is set in 1904, suggests that they had much in
common,” Professor Corballis says. “Indeed Leopold Bloom,
the central character of Ulysses, might have anticipated
Einstein's theory if only Joyce had allowed him to live
on for another year.”

Professor Corballis and Alan Sanson, PhD student, will
investigate this theory in this month’s professorial
lecture, The Race for Relativity: How the Hero of James
Joyce’s Ulysses Almost Forestalled Albert Einstein’s

Find out more here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Of the many, many musical references that Joyce uses
in Ulysses, there are some that are quite significant
and some that are only briefly alluded to. One of the
more significant references, though it's appearance is
much more concise than songs like The Croppy Boy and
Love's Old Sweet Song is the traditional Irish song
Suil a Run. It is used in the Ithaca chapter. Chapter
17 of Ulysses (Ithaca) is written entirely in question
and answer form, like a catechism.

At one point as Stephen and Bloom walk back to Bloom's
house, they each refer to one song, which represents
their culture. Bloom picks a Hebrew song with which I
am unfamiliar. Stephen chooses a song which tells of a
young woman who is pining for her lover, who has fled to
France. If you don't have your copy of Ulysses handy, you
can find this portion on the internet here. But this
particular question and answer are below:

"What fragments of verse from the ancient Hebrew and ancient
Irish languages were cited with modulations of voice and
translation of texts by guest to host and by host to guest?
By Stephen: suil, suil, suil arun, suil go siocair agus suil
go cuin (walk, walk, walk your way, walk in safety, walk with
care). By Bloom: kifeloch, harimon rakatejch m'baad l'zamatejch
(thy temple amid thy hair is as a slice of pomegranate). "

There are many recordings of Suil a Run. The best is on the
album All of It by the band Skylark. Instrumentally, the song
is simple and perfect and no one sings it as beautifully as
Len Graham does in this recording. Suil Arun (the spelling
varies) is also a song from Joyce's personal repertoire. Listen
to it if you get the chance. The link above provides a sample
of the song.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tis the Last Rose of Summer

’Tis the Last Rose of Summer

A hauntingly beautiful song written by Thomas
Moore, also used in the opera Martha by Flotow.
One of his most popular songs, ‘Tis the Last
Rose of Summer sold over a million copies -
quite an achievement for a song in the late 1800s.
(Moore will receive a post of his own later on
this blog). More recently, Ken Burns used it as
background music for his documentary “New York”.
I don’t know of Joyce singing this one anywhere
but it certainly seems like one that would be in
his personal repertoire. It’s in his range
and all about loneliness and being left alone....

He used in the Sirens chapter like so:
“Last rose Castille of summer left bloom I feel so
sad alone.”...“Under the sandwichbell lay on a bier
of bread one last, one lonely last sardine of summer.
Bloom alone.”

Here are the lyrics of the first verse:
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Anniversary to James and Nora, married
this day in 1931 after living together for
26 years. They were married in London and
this well known photo may be the first
documented episode of paparazzi. Note Joyce's
frown and Nora turning her head.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Some Songs You Know and Some You Don't

The hot temperatures here are not conducive to long
thoughtful posts. But here's something to think

Songs you probably know about in Joyce's Works:

Love's Old Sweet Song
I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls
The Croppy Boy
Finnegan's Wake

Songs you probably don't know about in Joyce's

Chin, Chin, Chinaman
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
Farmer in the Dell
Toot, Toot, Tootsie.

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